Hennen: A mega gift in the making, from ND to the world
Much has been written about the economic boon North Dakota has enjoyed from tapping into natural resources like oil and gas. But what if our state could use those energy resources to weaken Vladimir Putin’s influence in the world by taking away some of his strategic leverage? That’s one of the conclusions of a new report from American Experiment North Dakota titled Energy Leadership: How American Energy Production Can Make The World Safer.
Look no further than Germany and the rest of Western Europe for the disastrous effects of decades of energy policies that promoted “renewable” energy over more reliable sources such as nuclear and coal. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine exposed Europe’s reliance on energy imported from Russia. The European Union relies on Russia for more than a third of its natural gas production and one-quarter of its crude oil, making it the bloc’s largest single energy source. All under the control of the unpredictable and sometimes punitive leadership of Vladimir Putin.
The report was co-written by American Experiment’s energy expert Isaac Orr and top economist John Phelan. They outline the vulnerability of Russia’s over-reliance on oil and gas exports to their overall economy. According to the report, “revenues from oil and natural gas made up 45 percent of Russia’s federal budget in 2021.” The same year, exports of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas accounted for 45 percent of total exports, putting way too many eggs in their energy basket.
The report also outlines how a shift to “renewables” in the United States will not be anywhere near sufficient to execute this bold strategy of United States energy leadership. Again, look no further than Germany for their all-in strategy of wind and solar. Today they are considering reopening coal plants to strengthen their position against Russia. But it’s going to be a long, cold winter for Germany as it will take years to get that energy back online.
So how does America accomplish this lofty goal of energy leadership that can lead to global stability? The report argues “the Western world must neutralize Vladimir Putin’s, and the Chinese Communist Party’s use of energy as a geopolitical weapon. It must immediately act to bolster its domestic production of coal, natural gas, and oil, restart existing nuclear power facilities, and embrace a buildout of new nuclear power plants to reduce the need for imported fuels in the future.”
The North Dakota oil and gas industry can be at the center of this strategy. What a great opportunity, in addition to all of the enormous benefits this industry provides for our economy, to make a difference in the world.
As the world gets smaller, North Dakotans have become increasingly aware of the possible influence of foreign countries in our backyard. Thankfully, cooler heads appear to be prevailing in Grand Forks as the Fufeng plant receives greater scrutiny from federal, state and local governments. The concepts are the same — governments in Beijing and Moscow have very specific plans to expand their power, and North Dakota can play an important role in stopping them.
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at ScottH@FlagFamily.com
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.